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Effective Date: 01/12/2005 Title: Speech Generating Devices
Revision Date: 12/01/2017 Document: BI090:00
CPT Code(s): 92605-92609, E2500, E2502, E2504, E2506, E2508, E2510-E2512, E2599
Public Statement

Effective Date:

a)    This policy will apply to all services performed on or after the above revision date which will become the new effective date.

b)    For all services referred to in this policy that were performed before the revision date, contact customer service for the rules that would apply.

When a Speech Generating Device is covered under a QualChoice plan, both the device and the evaluation and services related to the device require preauthorization.


Speech Generating Devices are electronic devices which produce synthesized or prerecorded speech or other forms of verbal (perhaps written rather than spoken) communication in response to input from the patient. Vibrators and other noise producers designed to substitute for vocal cords in allowing a laryngectomized individual to articulate speech are not considered in this category, and are covered as DME. Speech Generating Devices are not covered under most QualChoice plans.  Refer to your Summary Plan Description, Certificate of Coverage, or Explanation of Coverage.

Medical Statement

QualChoice may not cover speech generation devices. For plans where these devices

are covered, preauthorization of both the device and services related to the device are

required.  The following medical necessity criteria apply and the member should meet

ALL of the following criteria:


  1. Prior to the delivery of the Speech Generating Device (SGD), the patient has had a formal evaluation of their cognitive and language abilities by a speech-language pathologist (SLP). The formal, written evaluation must include, at a minimum, ALL of the following elements:

a.     Evaluation of current communication impairment, including the type, severity, language skills, cognitive ability, and anticipated course of the impairment;

b.     An assessment of whether the individual`s daily communication needs could be met using natural modes of communication;

c.     A description of the functional communication goals expected to be achieved and treatment options;

d.     Rationale for selection of a specific device and accessories;

e.     A treatment plan that includes a training schedule for the selected device;

f.      Demonstration that the patient possesses the cognitive and physical abilities to effectively use the selected device and any accessories to communicate;

g.     For a subsequent upgrade to a previously issued SGD, information regarding the functional benefit to the patient of the upgrade compared to the initially provided SGD; AND

  1. The patient`s medical condition is one resulting in a permanent severe expressive speech disability; and
  2. The patient`s speaking needs cannot be met using natural communication methods; and
  3. Other forms of treatment have been considered and ruled out; and
  4. The patient`s speech disability will benefit from the device ordered; and
  5. A copy of the Speech and Language Pathologist`s (SLP) written evaluation and recommendation have been forwarded to the patient`s treating physician prior to ordering the device; and
  6. The SLP performing the patient evaluation may not be an employee or have a financial relationship with the supplier of the SGD.


Codes Used In This BI:



Ex for non-speech device rx


Non-speech device service


Ex for speech device rx 1hr


Ex for speech device rx add`l


Use of speech device service


Speech gen device, digitized speech, using prerecorded messages, less than or equal to 8 mins.


Speech gen device, digitized speech, using prerecorded messages, greater than 8 mins. but less than or equal to 20 mins.


Speech gen device, digitized speech, using prerecorded messages, greater than 20 mins. but less than or equal to 40 mins.


Speech gen device, digitized speech, using prerecorded messages, greater than 40 mins.


Speech gen device, synthesized speech, requiring message formulation by spelling and access by physical contact with the device


Speech gen device, synthesized speech, permitting multiple methods of  message formulation and multi methods of device access


Speech generating software program, for personal computer or personal digital assistant


Accessory for speech generating device, mounting system


Accessory for speech generating device, not otherwise classified


1.          Laptop computers, desktop computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), or other devices that are not dedicated SGDs are not covered because they do not meet the definition of durable medical equipment.

2.          Communication aids that do not generate speech are not covered. Communication aids that are not SGDs are not considered prosthetics for speech, as they do not replace internal or external body parts lost or impaired by disease or injury. Examples of non-covered communication aids include the following: picture books; flashcards; Braille typewriters; TTY (text telephone or TDD) devices; devices that allow the patient to communicate messages to others with writing (e.g., a display screen or printout) rather than with synthesized speech; and devices that allow the user to communicate with a computer rather than with another person. Although communication aids that do not generate (synthesize) speech may be useful to patients who otherwise cannot communicate, they do not meet the definition of a prosthetic device under QualChoice plans.

3.          Any software, interfaces, cables, adapters, interconnects, and switches necessary for an accessory to interface with the Speech Generating Device are not covered.


Speech generating devices (SGDs) are speech aids that provide individuals with severe speech impairment the ability to meet their functional speaking needs. Digitized speech sometimes referred to as devices with "whole message" speech output, use words, or phrases that have been recorded by an individual other than the SGD user for playback upon command of the SGD user.

Synthesized speech, unlike prerecorded messages of digitized speech, is a technology that translates a user`s input into device-generated speech using algorithms representing linguistic rules. Users of synthesized speech SGDs are not limited to pre-recorded messages but rather can independently create messages as their communication needs dictate. Some SGDs require message formulation by spelling and access by physical contact with a keyboard, touch screen, or other display containing letters.

Speech generating software programs enable a laptop computer, desktop computer, or personal digital assistant (PDA) to function as an SGD. Within this policy, the term SGD also describes these speech generating software programs. Speech generating devices may permit multiple methods of message formulation and multiple methods of device access. For purposes of this policy, a SGD with multiple methods of message formulation should include message selection by two or more of the following methods: letters, words, pictures, and symbols. A SGD with multiple methods of access should include the capability to access the device by two or more of the following: direct physical contact with a keyboard or touch screen, indirect selection techniques and a specialized access device such as a joystick, head mouse, optical head pointer, light pointer, infrared pointer, scanning device, or Morse code.

Upgrades of a SGD are subsequent versions of a SGD`s software program or memory modules that may include enhanced features or other improvements. Mounting switches are devices necessary to place the SGD, switches, and other access devices within the reach of the patient. Accessories for SGDs include, but are not limited to, access devices that enable selection of letters, words, or symbols via direct or indirect selection techniques. Examples of access devices include, but are not limited to, optical head pointers, joysticks, and SGD scanning devices. The assessment of need for an SGD should be performed by a qualified speech-language pathologist (SLP). For purposes of this policy, SLPs are licensed health professionals trained in the diagnosis and treatment of speech and language disorders. The SLP should hold a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech and Hearing Association.

  1. Poole CJ, Millman A. ABC of medical computing. Adaptive computer technology. Br Med J. 1995; 311(7013):1149-1151.
  2. Pehringer JL. Assistive devices: technology to improve communication. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 1989; 22(1):143-174.
  3. Redford JB. Assistive devices. In: Practice of Geriatrics. 3rd Ed. EH Duthie, JR Katz, eds. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Co.; 1998; 173-186.
  4. Rostron A, Ward S, Plant R. Computerized augmentative communication devices for people with dysphasia: design and evaluation. Eur J Discord Commun. 1996; 31(1):11-30.
  5. Beukelman DR, Mirenda P. Augmentative and alternative communication: management of severe communication disorders in children and adults. Baltimore, MD: P.H. Brookes Publishers.; 1998.
  6. Lloyd LL, Fuller DR, Arvidson HH. Augmentative and alternative communication: a handbook of principles and practices. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon; 1997.
  7. Cigna/Medicare coverage: accessed June 15/2004


Effective 12/01/2017: Clarification added regarding preauthorization of both device and related services

Application to Products
This policy applies to all health plans administered by QualChoice, both those insured by QualChoice and those that are self-funded by the sponsoring employer, unless there is indication in this policy otherwise or a stated exclusion in your medical plan booklet. Consult the individual plan sponsor Summary Plan Description (SPD) for self-insured plans or the specific Evidence of Coverage (EOC) for those plans insured by QualChoice. In the event of a discrepancy between this policy and a self-insured customer’s SPD or the specific QualChoice EOC, the SPD or EOC, as applicable, will prevail. State and federal mandates will be followed as they apply.
Changes: QualChoice reserves the right to alter, amend, change or supplement benefit interpretations as needed.
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